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City Planning Commission OKs county permit

The Morris Planning Commission approved a conditional-use permit that, if approved by the City Council, will allow Stevens County to move ahead on its $15 million building project.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday reviewed county plans for the project, which includes a courthouse renovation and the construction of a 40-bed jail and a law enforcement center.

The county expects to begin construction this spring. The conditional-use permit request now goes to the council for a final vote.

The county needs city permission to build since its plan calls for the jail and law enforcement center to be constructed on the current courthouse grounds in Morris.

The county also will seek to have a block of Colorado Avenue the runs in front of the main courthouse entrance vacated to allow for construction of a pedestrian mall from the parking lot to the entrance. The county is in negotiations to purchase a home and additional parking area near the current parking lot.

City Manager Blaine Hill said the county's plan meets 25-foot setback requirements, and that conditions placed on the permit include installation of dark-sky lighting, approval of a landscaping plan, approval of storm water plans, and having a police department committee review parking lot access from East 4th Street.